Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Little Flowers Girls' Club :: Wreath III Crafting Pages


This year I have been working on updating all my original Little Flowers Girls' Club Notebook Pages and creating pages for the new Wreath IV!


The Wreath III Crafting Pages are finally completed and available for download over at Behold Publications! They are only $3.00 per wreath. (If purchased I will receive a 25% commission. Thank you!) They are also currently available to download for FREE in the Registered Club's Site. The updated versions of Wreaths I and II will be available soon! You can find the Wreath IV Crafting Pages here.

Note: The Wreath III Crafting Pages feature the lovely saint illustrations by Michelle Mahnke, matching the coloring pages found in the Wreath III Member's Guide.




It has been inspiring going back through all these pages again and rediscovering the quotes and prayers I originally chose to include for each virtue. I especially love this Prayer for Patience in Accepting God's Will which is included on the crafting page featuring the St. Bathildis and the virtue of Patience. 

Lord, teach me to be patient - with life, with people, and with myself. I sometimes try to hurry things along too much, and I push for answers before the time is right. Teach me to trust Your sense of timing rather than my own and to surrender my will to Your greater and wiser plan. Help me let life unfold slowly, like the small rosebud whose petals unravel bit by bit, and remind me that in hurrying the bloom along, I destroy the bud and much of the beauty therein.

Instead, let me wait for all to unfold in its own time. Each moment and state of growth contains a loveliness. Teach me to slow down enough to appreciate life and all it holds. Amen.

Speaking of patience... Thank you all for your patience with me as I work on finishing the necessary updates. I'm about half finished with the sample pages for Wreaths I and II and am hoping to have them all completed by the end of this week. 


Visit Behold Publications to purchase the Wreath III Crafting Pages

New Additions to Our September Book Basket

September has arrived! Our new school year is about to begin and it is time for me to refill our monthly book basket. We have a couple new additions to share with you all this month, including a link to a free audio download!

Note: Links to Amazon or RC History are affiliate links. If you choose to click any of the links, then add an item (any item!) to your cart and complete the purchase, I will receive a commission. We are so grateful for this additional source of income. Thank you!

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Regina Martryum Productions, one of my current sponsors here at Shower of Roses, has re-released the downloadable audio story about the friendship between Saint Giles and a baby deer and is currently offering it for FREE!  This heartwarming story is perfect for the feast of St. Giles, patron of the physically disabled, which is traditionally celebrated on September 1st. We have owned it on cassette for many years and are so happy to add it to our digital collection as well!

The Loyal Friend – St. Giles

A stormy winter night. A little fawn separated from her mother, lost and alone and frightened. A holy hermit living in a cave. Thus begins the heartwarming friendship between Saint Giles and the baby deer. But their idyllic life together in the forest is soon to be shattered by the arrival of the king's hunters. With the deer in danger and fleeing for her life, Saint Giles is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice of friendship and loyalty. Taken from the life of Saint Giles, this endearing story is told from the little deer's point of view! Sure to be enjoyed by children again and again!


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I am slowly working on building up our collection of books from the In the Footsteps of the Saints Series. Here is one of our new additions for the feast of St. Wenceslaus on September 28th.

A Story of Saint Wenceslaus

His father was Catholic, his mother was not. This young man faced many obstacles but with the help of his grandmother stayed true to the end.

(Note: This book is also used in Volume 2 of Connecting with History!)


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You can find the rest of our books for September here:

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Autoimmune Protocol :: Seven Snacks That Helped Me Survive the AIP Diet



Last week I posted about The Autoimmune Protocol :: My Journey Towards Better Health & Weight Loss with the AIP Diet. Thank you all for the encouraging comments and support!

For the most part my daily diet consists of pastured meats, bone broth, fresh vegetables and fruit... BUT when you are a mother of a large family (or living on the road for nearly a month!) it's good to have a few backup options for emergencies! Here is a peek at some of the snacks that have helped me survive the AIP diet in Seven Quick Takes.

Note: This post includes Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to click any of the links, then add an item (any item!) to your cart and complete the purchase, I will receive a commission. Thanks!




— 1 ::  Plantain Chips —


Ingredients: Plantain, Palm Oil, Salt. 

Holy Guacamole! These Plantain Chips are GOOD! I was so excited when I first discovered them a couple weeks into my AIP diet last March. I buy them by the case at Natural Grocers and make my own delicious AIP approved homemade guacamole to go along with them when I am "starving!" (Meatless Fridays!) At 140 calories per serving, with 4 servings in each small 4 ounce bag which I can inhale in one sitting if I let myself, they are not low calorie, but that hasn't affected my weight loss and they have definitely kept me from feeling deprived at times, especially when everyone else is snacking on chips or popcorn.



— 2 :: Beef Jerky —


Ingredients: Angus Beef, Pineapple Juice Concentrate, Water, Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Celery Juice Powder, Dried Garlic

I started buying this beef jerky just before our July road trip and it has become a staple in my pantry even though the beef is "raised on grass and grains." It also does include Black Pepper which is on the "Be Cautious" list. I completely eliminated black and white pepper from my diet during the first few months, but now include them occasionally. 

Wyoming Gourmet Beef also makes a "Honey" version that is good too, but unfortunately it includes some raw cane sugar (and honey) in the ingredient list instead of the Pineapple Juice Concentrate... I did end up having some of it on our trip due to lack of other options, but generally I stick with the "Original." 


Ingredients: Grass-fed Beef, Smoked Sea Salt. 

Only 2 ingredients!!! And the beef is 100% grassfed! I happened to run across these just before our road trip at Natural Grocers and they are pretty good. Personally I prefer the regular cut beef jerky, but these would be great for any one who would prefer really thin-cut beef jerky.

I really tried to like the Epic All Natural Meat Bars, 100% Grass Fed, Bison, Bacon and Cranberry, but just couldn't do it... Way too greasy in my opinion. My husband ate them for me. 


— 3 :: Bare Apple Chips —


Simply Cinnamon Apple Chips
Ingredients: Organic Apples, Organic Cinnamon 

The Apple Chips from Bare are another great AIP snack! My favorite is the Simply Cinnamon. I also like the Fugi Red which can sometimes be found in big bags at Costco.  They also make Mango Chunks which I have not tried yet.



— 4 ::  Freeze-Dried Fruit —
  

Red Seedless Grapes - Ingredients: Freeze-Dried Red Seedless Grapes
Pineapple & Strawberry - Ingredients: Freeze-Dried Pineapples, Freeze-Dried Strawberries
Fuji Apple - Ingredients: Freeze-Dried Fuji Apples, Citric Acid

Wish these were organic, but I still have them in the pantry to grab for a quick snack when I am out of fresh fruit. I enjoy the grapes and the pineapple & strawberry. I let my kids have the fugi apples since they do include citric acid in the ingredient list. 

Freeze-Dried Mango
Ingredients: Mango

Some of my kids really don't like the sticky-melt-in-your-mouth texture of Trader Joe's Freeze-Dried Mangos, but I like 'em! I'm highly allergic to poison oak and have found that I do have to be careful with Mangos too, especially fresh, but these haven't been a problem. 


— 5 :: Sweet Potato Chips —


Ingredients: sweet potatoes, organic coconut oil, sea salt

I searched for these chips for months and finally found them at a Natural Grocers we just "happened" to drive by while we were lost in Missoula, Montana! After spending over a week in National Parks I was out of food and pretty cranky. I (and my husband!) was thanking God for that little detour to the health food store! ;)  Our local Natural Grocers now has these chips too! They have been on sale all month so I stocked up. 


— 6 :: Coconut Chips 


Ingredients: Coconut, Coconut Sugar, Sea Salt

After being on the AIP diet for about week I remember going to the grocery store searching for something, anything, that I could have that was not a fresh fruit or veggie and at least somewhat resembled one of my old snacks... I ended up just buying a bag of bulk coconut flakes. I have joked that there is no way I could have survived this diet without avocados, sweet potatoes, and coconut! I still love snacking on plain ol' coconut flakes, but I have also discovered this amazing treat! 

When I first opened a small bag of the Dang Caramel Sea Salt Toasted Coconut Chips and tasted these (just a few) for the first time I felt guilty! They taste like candy!!! Maybe it's because I have been off sugar for so long (it's nice that fruit actually tastes like dessert now!) but boy are these delicious and a perfect treat for special occasions. They also come in a large 3 serving 3.17oz resealable bag, but I usually just buy the small bag since it can be way too dangerous to have the large bag in the house... 

Now that I've been on the AIP so long I actually prefer the Unsweetened Version. It's interesting how our taste buds can be retrained and change over time. 


— 7 :: Roasted Dandelion Root Tea —


Ingredients: Organic Dandelion Root, roasted

Speaking of retraining my taste buds... Giving up coffee was one of my biggest challenges. I still miss it, but I have grown to really love Roasted Dandelion Root Tea as an alternative. It took some getting use to in the beginning, and I would often add some coconut cream (from the top of a can of coconut milk), but now I just drink it plain and love the taste. I buy it by the case from Amazon and enjoy a cup nearly every morning. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Little Flowers Girls' Club :: Wreath IV Crafting Pages


I finished updating all my original Little Flowers Girls' Club Notebook Pages and creating pages for the new Wreath IV! This week I'm spending all my free time crafting the new sample pages...


The Wreath IV Crafting Pages are finally completed and available for download over at Behold Publications! They are only $3.00 per wreath. (If purchased I will receive a 25% commission. Thank you!) I also requested that they be available to download for FREE in the Registered Club's Site.  The updated versions of Wreaths I, II and III will be available soon!   

Note: The Wreath IV Crafting Pages feature the lovely saint illustrations by Michelle Mahnke, matching the coloring pages found in the Wreath IV Member's Guide. 


Creating this fun supplement for the Little Flowers Girls' Club® has been a labor of love, originally for my own girls, and I hope the girls in your club enjoy crafting the pages too! 


Visit Behold Publications to purchase the Wreath IV Crafting Pages

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Autoimmune Protocol :: My Journey Towards Better Health & Weight Loss with the AIP Diet


Last August I was in bad shape... I had hit my highest non-pregnancy weight ever (just 5 pounds away from my highest full-term pregnancy weight), I had just had another miscarriage that June, my back, chest, stomach, and arms were covered in a painful rash (later determined to be an autoimmune skin disease called Lichen planus), and I was struggling with chronic fatigue, joint pain, mood swings, depression, and anxiety.

I was trying my best to eat nutritious foods, avoid dairy/grains/sugar, and exercise. I would start to feel better, lose a little bit of weight, and then something would happen to make it all come right back... I started to think it was pointless and that I would never be healthy again.

My doctor was trying to get me to start taking all sorts of prescriptions - bandaids for my symptoms, complete with their own long list of side effects - but I knew that wasn't the answer. I knew there was something else going on, but I just couldn't figure it out. After finally getting a correct diagnosis and being told "there is no cure", I started doing some of my own research and discovered the autoimmune protocol. I decided to try a 30-Day Autoimmune Reset Diet. I started the diet the next day, quitting everything (coffee, chocolate and Chipotle!) cold turkey, and was able to successfully implement and stick with the diet for the 30 days. I figured Lent was the perfect time to make the extra sacrifices. The results were incredible.

Day 30 ended up being Holy Thursday, so I spent Day 31 fasting for Good Friday. Most websites suggest extending the reset to a minimum of 60 days for people with severe autoimmune conditions. I was so encouraged and motivated by my initial results that I decided to stick with my new diet through Easter and beyond since my lichen planus wasn't completely gone.  I shared an update from Day 100 here. Since then I have continued on the autoimmune protocol and am slowly starting to reintroduce a few foods, some successfully and others not so successfully.

As of this month (August 12, 2015 to be exact) I have lost 50 (FIFTY!!!) pounds since last August, with 40 of those pounds dropping after beginning the autoimmune protocol on March 4, 2015, just over five months ago!  I now weigh what I weighed in college. I am just 10 pounds away from my lowest post-pregnancy weight (I weighed 128 for one day in 2002 - New Year's Eve - before finding out the next day that #3 was on the way) and just 14 pounds away from what I weighed when I got married! It is so nice to finally be within the "Ideal Body Weight" range for my height and body frame!

Here is a little peek at the various charts in my TargetWeight app this morning:

  


What is the autoimmune protocol?

The autoimmune protocol (AIP) is a version of the Paleo diet (no grains, legumes or dairy) where a person also removes eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables, food chemicals (like thickeners and alternative sweeteners), guar gum, and all over-the-counter medications like NSAIDs.

The autoimmune protocol is an elimination process, removing certain categories of food for a period of time, allowing your body to heal and to help you figure out your personal ideal diet. All of the foods and substances that are eliminated on the autoimmune protocol are those that can irritate and damage the gut, resulting in leaky gut which leads to auto-immune diseases. They are also foods that are nutrient deficient and hormonal disruptors. By removing them from the diet, and focusing on anti-inflammatory food, the gut lining can begin to heal resulting in relief from – or even remission – your autoimmune symptoms.

Once your symptoms have gone away you then add the eliminated foods back into your diet, one at a time, as you figure out what's affecting you. In her book, The Paleo Approach, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne outlines the protocol for reintroductions.

Note: This post includes Amazon affiliate links. If you choose to click any of the links, then add an item (any item!) to your cart and complete the purchase, I will receive a commission. Thanks!


Foods to be avoided on the AIP:  

  • grains
  • legumes
  • dairy products
  • eggs
  • nuts (including nut-based spices)
  • seeds (including cocoa, coffee, and seed-based spices and oils)
  • nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, and the spices derived from them)
  • refined and artificial sweeteners 
  • alcohol
  • NSAIDs
  • emulsifiers, thickeners, and other food additives

Note: While fruit is allowed on the AIP, one should aim to keep fructose levels lower than 20 grams per day since excessive fructose can also be problematic while healing the gut. 

When I first read the list of what was not allowed on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet I didn't think there was any way that I'd be able to survive 30 days… let alone indefinitely!  Instead of dwelling on the long list of foods I needed to eliminate from my diet, I focused my attention on what I could eat.


What can you eat?

  • VEGETABLES (except for nightshades)
  • ROOTS  (including beet, carrot, onion, parsnip, turnip, shallot, sweet potato, and yam) 
  • FATS (including animal fat, avocado oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oil) 
  • MEAT (preferably 100% grass-fed, free-range chicken, no nitrates, no antibiotics/hormones)
  • OFFAL (I stick with just bone broth. I haven't been able to bring myself to eat the rest yet...) 
  • FRUIT
  • HERBS
  • SPICES (except for nightshade, nut or seed-based spices)
  • FERMENTS (sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, kombucha, water kefir) 
  • OCCASIONAL SWEETENERS (dates, dried fruit, honey, maple syrup, molasses) 
  • ADDITIONAL PANTRY ITEMS (mine include: apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, arrowroot powder, coconut flour, coconut flakes, coconut aminos, olives, salmon, tuna, ume plum vinegar)

The first few days weren't too bad, but by day seven I was really struggling. Eliminating the eggs and nightshades was my biggest challenge. In many of my past diets I would turn to foods like Zucchini or Spaghetti Squash and top it with red sauce (nightshades), my salads were always topped with peppers and tomatoes, and for breakfast I would often have eggs (scrambled, fried, poached on top of sweet potatoes, or turned into omelettes or quiche with the help of peppers - more nightshades...) I loved eggs and nightshades! I also had to completely change my idea of breakfast... On the autoimmune protocol breakfast isn't really that different from any other meal of the day - just more meat and veggies!


Note: Pacific Natural Foods now carries Bone Broth. I pick it up at Natural Grocers to keep in the cupboard for when I run out of homemade broth. 

Thankfully I have had amazing support from both my husband and my mom. When the flu hit our family my mom dropped off homemade bone broth. When I had extra busy days (between tutors, piano, and hockey lessons) with no time to cook (and sore teeth due to my braces at the time, which made carrot sticks, apples, and most other approved foods a bit difficult, at least raw), she would meet me in town with a thermos of homemade veggie soup (making sure it was nightshade free - no potatoes!).

My husband has been great about helping with the grocery shopping and grilling meats and fish, always making extra for my breakfast or lunch the next day, even when I tell him not to worry about it. He knows me better than I know myself! ;)


Introducing the ferments took a little bit of adjustment... I had never tried kombucha before so I picked up a bottle of Synergy at a local health food store. The first sip was quite a shock and then, after drinking the rest, I felt really funny...  I googled "Can kombucha make you drunk?"  Apparently I'm not the only one! I cut way back the next time - only having a few sips - and slowly added a little bit at a time to my diet. I love the stuff now! Trilogy and Gingerade (our closest Costco carries the Gingerade) are my favorites. I also enjoy Bubbie's Sauerkraut on my salads at lunchtime. I make sure to include some sort of fermented food and/or drink in my diet daily.

Once I hit the end of the first month, I had settled into a good routine and had developed new habits. I no longer have the cravings I had before I started the autoimmune protocol. It was getting much easier to stick with the diet. Plus I felt great!


How much can you eat? 

I really don't worry too much about portion sizes... I eat whatever I feel like eating of my allowed foods, focusing on a variety of nutritient-dense options.

When I first started the AIP, I felt that I was giving up so much already, I didn't want to feel hungry on top of the other sacrifices. I adjusted our over full schedule so that I could spend more time in the kitchen, especially those first couple months, preparing the food that I could eat and keeping the rest of my family well-fed at the same time.

I make sure that I eat some sort of meat or fish (just fish on Fridays) with each meal and also include plenty of healthy fats (olive oil on my salad, sautéing with coconut oil, lots of avocado) in my diet as well. These are the things that help keep me feeling satisfied.

  • Protein (probably around 4-8 oz)
  • Starchy Vegetables (one small sweet potato, carrots, etc)
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables (lots of these, piled high!) 
  • Heathy Fat (one tablespoon of coconut oil to sauté my veggies, or one tablespoon of olive oil on my salad, or 1/4-1/2 avocado)

My breakfast the other morning: Apple Sausage, Carrots and Asparagus sautéed in coconut oil with a little Garlic Salt
My husband likes to joke that I'm on a "strictly gourmet diet!" I can't argue... The food that I am eating is delicious! 
Another favorite is Chicken with julienned Zucchini sautéed in coconut oil with garlic and basil... Mmmmmm!
This Spiralizer is now on my wish list after seeing Charlotte's recent post

I also include some fruit each day as well. It is surprising how sweet it tastes after eliminating sugar for so long. The same goes for sweet potatoes, carrots, and a few other sweet vegetables as well. 

In addition to lots of water, I drink hot lemon water (first thing in the morning, I was much better about this when I first started. I haven't had it as much this summer), bone broth, roasted dandelion root tea, and kombucha. I also have a stash of AIP approved snacks on hand for when I really need a little "treat." 


What supplements do you take? 

  • Vitamin B6 (for hormone balance, take in the early afternoon as an energy boost)
  • Vitamic C (for stress management) 
  • Magnesium Complex (digestive aid and stress management, taken before bed)
  • Natural Calm (purchased recently to use instead of the Magnesium Complex)
  • Vitamin D (we live in the Pacific Northwest...)
  • Probiotics (in addition to the daily fermented foods)
  • Pro-Gest Cream (for hormone balance, anxiety, and night sweats - two weeks on, and then two weeks off at the beginning of a new cycle)

I've been considering adding a few other supplements (digestive enzymes, L-glutamine, DGL, etc) suggested by Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, but haven't yet. I stopped taking Zyrtec for my angio-edema, another auto-immune disease I developed about 12 years ago. (Since starting the autoimmune protocol I've had very little trouble with my angio-edema!)  I also love these Pure Magnesium Flakes for body soaks, especially when my rash was at it's worst.

My Lichen planus has also caused problems for my nails, including awful ridges and splitting. I just started using Purifying Tea Tree Nail Saver and it has already made a difference.


Do you have any favorite resources?

I checked this book out from the library when I first started the autoimmune protocol. It's such a great resource and I'd love to own a copy. I also checked out the author's cookbook as well: The Paleo Approach Cookbook: A Detailed Guide to Heal Your Body and Nourish Your Soul.

This is the only cookbook I have purchased so far and I love it! The food lists in the front were very helpful and I have some new favorite recipes inspired by this book. I don't use it as much any more, but it definitely helped me survive my first month.

You can actually print out these Autoimmune Protocol guides. I kept them in my purse for awhile when I started the diet so that I'd always have them with me at the grocery store.


Any tips for keeping the grocery budget affordable?

With a family of nine, including two teenage boys, our family goes through a lot of food and our grocery budget was already ridiculously high. My diet hasn't made too much of a difference, in fact we might even be spending a little less now. I no longer buy coffee drinks when I go to town, my husband and I rarely eat out any more, and I've cut way back on all pre-packaged foods and all the fun treats I would make in the past. By cutting back in those other areas, I've been able to keep the money spent on food each month pretty much the same as before, even with the additional special foods I'm purchasing for my diet.

Here are a few things I have done to save money:
  • Shop at Costco - I'm able to find some AIP foods here at good prizes. (Kombucha, Chicken, Bacon, Freeze-Dried Fruit, etc) 
  • Shop at Trader Joe's (and/or local Farmers Market) for produce (and a few other things)
  • Buy specialty/hard-to-find items from the Health Food Store (Natural Grocers) by the case for the extra 10% off case discounts (Beef Jerky, Plantain Chips, Sweet Potato Chips, Coconut Milk that doesn't contain guar gum, etc) 
  • Price check on Amazon - I found my favorite tea for about 50% less online compared to our local stores, when purchased by the case. 
  • Buy 1/2 Grass-fed Beef from a local farm each year 


There are a few things that I eat now that aren't 100% AIP approved including my favorite sausages from TJ's (they come in a pack of 4 for $3.99 and unfortunately contain a tiny bit of nutmeg and chardonnay) and some coconut milk yogurt that I'll eat with some fruit for either a snack or breakfast once or twice a week.


What about the rest of the family? Do you make separate meals for you or does everyone eat the same things?  

I am the only one in our family who is currently on the strict AIP diet. There is no way that I'd be able to afford to keep our growing children full on the limited list of foods that I am eating, and it just isn't necessary for them right now. They need the grains, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs, and other healthy (for them) foods that I've had to eliminate for now.

My breakfast and lunch is usually different from what the rest of my family is eating (although I often make extras in case anyone else would like some) but I do try and make something for dinner that we can all eat, adding an extra side or two for everyone else. For example if I'm baking chicken for dinner I'll eat the chicken and roasted vegetables, and then also make some pasta or rice as well to serve on the side for the rest of my family.



Have you had to make any other lifestyle changes? 

Yes! The diet alone is not enough to improve my health and stimulate weight loss. Sleep and stress management have been just as important and essential to avoiding new lichen planus from appearing.

I also had to make changes in how I was exercising. I had been working through the Couch 2 5K app and as I neared the end the running became way too much stress for my body. I stopped losing weight and started getting hives after exercising as well as new rash break outs. As soon as I stopped running my weight loss resumed and I started feeling better again.

I now avoid excessive or overly intense exercise and focus on including some sort of low to moderate intensity exercise each day (walking, playing with the kids, going on hikes during our recent road trip, etc) while allowing for plenty of rest between "workouts." It's also important to limit sedentary behavior but, with seven children and much less time for blogging, that's easy to do! ;)

I also make sure to pray and get outside to soak up some sunshine as much as possible.

With the combination of the AIP diet, low(er) stress, and plenty of sleep (ideally 8-9 hours per night), I've been able to manage my autoimmune skin issues without using any of the prescribed steroids!



Is the autoimmune protocol too hard?

Following the autoimmune protocol is hard but it also gets easier over time. I think it is definitely worth trying for anyone who suffers from one of the many autoimmune diseases, or anyone who is dealing with inflammatory symptoms of any kind including headaches, joint pain, skin conditions, etc.

Sacrifice: Accept that the autoimmune protocol, like most diets, will require sacrifice. Remember the words of St. Therese: "Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look , there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love."

Offer it up:  For me it helps to choose a specific intention to offer up my suffering and sacrifices. Choose a specific intention and just "offer it up!" 

Be diligent and patient: It took many years for my body to develop my autoimmune health issues and gain all the excess weight. It's not going to all go away over night. It's going to take hard work, diligence and patience.

Don't give up: Have a plan for when things get tough... Sometimes just the smell of something is enough to satisfy the cravings, and I still enjoy baking some treats for my family on certain birthdays and feast days. If all else fails find a "treat" that you can enjoy that doesn't sabotage your goals. For me those treats have included Roasted Dandelion Root Tea with Coconut Creamer as a replacement for coffee, baked pears topped with cinnamon and coconut sugar, and a few other snacks that I will share soon.

Pray for perseverance: Don't under estimate the power of prayer. Pray often and be sure to pray specifically for perseverance.

"Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations!" 


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

2015 Camp Saint Joan of Arc


This summer our older girls were so blessed to be able to attend Camp Saint Joan of Arc, a summer camp for Catholic girls in the Pacific Northwest, for the first time! They were nervous (and so was Mom!) before hand but ended up having an incredible time. They especially loved meeting so many other Catholic girls and developed some wonderful new friendships. It's a loooooong drive from our home but hopefully we can get them back to camp next summer! 

- Day 1 - 

.: Father Blessed the Campground :. 

Father asked the girls a few questions as he prepared to bless the campground...
"What does the color green symbolize?"
(incorrect answer... incorrect answer...) "Ohhh! You girls are killing me!"
I just loved watching him interact with all the children. They loved him. He is such an awesome priest!
And I'm not just saying that because he is my brother-in-law. ;) God Bless Father G!  


.: Breaking the Girls into Groups :. 

 The girls all named their groups after saints.
Chiquita was in Team St. Philomena.
Twinkle Toes was in Team St. Maria Goretti.

.: Setting up Camp :. 

Just look at that smile! 
I said bye to the girls and told them I'd be back in a couple days... 


- Day 2 - 

.: Hiking :. 

Photo Source: Father G


- Day 3 - 


I was able to drive out to the camp for the afternoon and evening on Day 3. These are just a few of the activities the girls (and seminarians/priests!) enjoyed during camp.


.: Hula Hoops :. 



.: Firearms & Marksmanship Fundamentals Course :. 


After a lesson at the campground we loaded up in vans and drove to the shooting range. 
The girls all have beautiful voices and sang on the drive. 


The view was gorgeous! 




Photobombed by Mr. F! 


You can find even more pictures (and you might recognize a certain someone behind one of the rifles! So FUN!) in Christine's post about Camp Saint Joan over at Memories of a Catholic Wife & Mother
(Also please keep Christine's husband and family in your prayers!)

...and 9 of my 10 shots actually hit the target! lol


.: Praying the Rosary :.



.: Dodge Ball :. 

Mr. M & Mr. F Choosing Teams - Pick me!! Pick ME!!!
Father N was the last to be chosen.


.: Get the Bacon :. 



.: Jump Rope :. 

Here comes Mr. F! 


.: Tug of War :. 



.: Pizza Man :.




.: Ask Father :. 

Both priests answered questions that the girls had placed in a box and told stories while the girls enjoyed some S'mores made by the mom volunteers using the BBQ. No campfires allowed this year!   

Father G. came put the books of the bible to music on a recent vacation to help the girls remember the names. I didn't get The New Testament on video, but here is The Old Testament! Sorry for the poor quality, it was dark and I was using my cellphone. The girls were a little distracted by the faces Father N. was making while looking through the questions in the "Ask Father" box! :) 


- Day 5 - 

.: Morning Mass :. 

I got up extra early and was able to drive out to the campground and join all the girls for Morning Mass on the last day of Camp St. Joan! It was so beautiful, peaceful and reverent!  Deo Gratias! 




.: Breakfast :. 

These two hard working mamas were amazing and I had so much fun visiting with them during the short time I spent at the camp. May God reward you both for the sacrifices you and your families made for the all the girls! 

.: Signing Camp Books :. 

My boys thought this was interesting... not something that happens at any of the boys camps they have attended! :) 


.: Camp Cleanup :. 


Just a few leftovers from Camp Saint Joseph and Camp Saint Joan of Arc...
No campfires were allowed this year due to wildfire danger!


.: Group Photos :. 





St. Joan of Arc, Ora Pro Nobis!